Friday night’s ACC Atlantic Division matchup between Clemson and Boston College came and went, and the Tigers claimed their sixth win of the year.
That wasn’t a surprise.
With Deshaun Watson doing Deshaun Watson-like things and running back Wayne Gallman turning in another 100-yard rushing performance, Clemson cruised to a 56-10 victory. That score isn’t terribly shocking, either.
For anyone wearing orange and white, though, the outcome was promising.
The Tigers did exactly what they were supposed to do in their trip to Chestnut Hill, and maybe even a little more. Sure, winning that game was as much of an expectation as it was a goal. But Boston College entered the game with what was statistically one of the best defenses in the nation. The Eagles held four of their first five opponents to 238 yards or fewer of total offense.
Clemson gained 503.
The Tigers entered the contest with a significant talent advantage, and it showed. Watson finished 14-of-24 passing for 266 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. On the receiving end, the stars of the present shined (Mike Williams following a tremendous 50-yard catch with a nine-yard touchdown grab just moments later), as did the stars of the future (Deon Cain hauling in three receptions for 68 yards and two scores).
The Eagles didn’t have an answer for Gallman, who rushed for 109 yards on nine attempts, and freshman Tavien Feaster — likely to contend for the starting job whenever Gallman departs — displayed his talent with a 45-yard touchdown run in the final minutes.
As the offense lit up the scoreboard, the defense ensured there would be no shootout. Boston College was limited to fewer than half the yards of total offense that Clemson accumulated (251, to be exact). The highlights included a Ben Boulware hit on Patrick Towles that forced a fumble and a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore corner Mark Fields with 1:30 left in the game.
There was never any question as to which team was going to walk away with the ‘W’.
The victory signifies that this Clemson team is focused. While the program’s triumphs over big-name powerhouses over the last half decade are well-documented, Dabo Swinney’s teams aren’t getting caught off-guard against lesser competition. According to Aaron Brenner of the (Greenville) Post & Courier, the Tigers are 44-0 versus unranked teams since losing at NC State in 2011.
That consistency is remarkable, and it represents exactly what a coach wants to see in his squad. Clemson’s start to the season — an unconvincing 19-13 win at Auburn and a puzzling 30-24 victory at home against Troy — could have left at least some reason for concern that this year’s group was falling victim to complacency. The Tigers’ performance on Friday night dismissed any questions about that.
As Clemson pursues its second straight undefeated regular season, challenges lie ahead in the forms of Florida State and Pitt. But NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest and, yes, even rival South Carolina will be hurdles.
With the way Swinney’s team played on Friday, every sign points to the Tigers clearing each of those hurdles.